BALTIMORE ( Stockpickr) -- If you're an income investor, you'd better get ready to see some cash start flowing from corporate balance sheets to your portfolio. The dividends are trickling in as the inaugural week of earnings season kicks into high gear. A handful of names announced increases in the amount of cash they're paying out to shareholders, jacking up returns in an environment where uncertainty is reigning.
And it only makes sense to expect more of the same for the rest of July.
That's because while earnings season starts as a trickle, the tap opens to full flow next week with more than 90 S&P 500 components announcing their numbers to Wall Street between next Monday and Friday. And since earnings releases and dividend announcements tend to go hand in hand, the likely outcome is that next week will be rife with bigger dividend payouts -- a factor that bodes extremely well for your portfolio's total returns.How well? Over the last 36 years, dividend stocks have outperformed the rest of the S&P 500 by 2.5% annually, and they outperformed nonpayers by nearly 8% every year, all while paying out cash to their shareholders, according to data compiled by Ned Davis Research. The numbers are even more compelling when looking at companies that consistently increase their payouts. >>ACTIVE STOCK TRADERS: Check out Stockpickr's special offer for Real Money, headlined by Jim Cramer, now! That's why we pay close attention to the firms that are shoveling more corporate cash to shareholders. With that, here's a look at seven stocks that hiked payouts recently.